Despite more severe fines and increased gruesome accidents, some drivers still believe they can safely text while driving. The reality however, as most insurance and towing service companies will attest, is that safe multi-tasking is a myth. Your eyes and attention are either on the road, or they aren’t. And when they aren’t, people get hurt.
Despite evidence supporting the dangers of texting and driving, the Washington Post reports 49 percent of adults admit to texting and driving.
Reasons are common refrains: “Only look away for a second,” “Years of experience behind a wheel and skill in knowing what to do” or “Only look if they are waiting for an important message.” But the justification does not outweigh the danger.
Is any message so important. it is worth your life, the life of a stranger, or the lives of those in your car?
Have you ever watched a movie and realized the actor on screen wasn’t really driving because of the length of time they were looking directly at their passenger? Or you’re watching and recognize that they are about to have some kind of accident because they’ve been looking away so long and predictably will be running headlong into something by the time they turn back?
Believe it or not, texting while driving is the same thing. An article by CQ researcher suggests the average driver takes their eyes off the road for almost five seconds every time they try to read or send a text while driving. While five seconds may seem insignificant, at average speeds that can mean driving the length of a football field without looking.
And if you think you don’t look away because you’re really quick at it, go back to the previous paragraph – you aren’t that special and it probably takes you longer than you realize.
The Journal of Adolescent Health says two seconds is the length of time you can safely look away from the road while driving. Try it. It isn’t nearly long enough to do or look at anything, even if you are really quick.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report nine Americans are killed every day through accidents that involved texting or other forms of distracted driving.
Think that nine deaths are an acceptable number compared with death by other causes? Keep in mind these deaths are totally preventable. Look around the room the next time you’re at a family gathering or staff meeting or celebration and imagine nine of the people around you simply gone, without warning, without reason.
If you have kids, of any age, you need to be aware that they see more than you think they do and, despite your best intention, they will pay attention to what you do, not what you say. The Federal Communications Commission reports that 40 percent of teens have been a passenger in a car in which they felt they were in danger because of cellphone use.
The survey didn’t ask, or didn’t report on how many of those instance involved a parent or guardian. You’ve heard it before: Texting while driving kills. Apparently you haven’t heard it enough though if you still take the risk to do it.
Article Last Updated: March 9, 2018.
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A sports, travel and business journalist for more than 45 years, James has written the new car review column The Weekly Driver since 2004.
In addition to this site, James writes a Sunday automotive column for The San Jose Mercury and East Bay Times in Walnut Creek, Calif., and a monthly auto review column for Gulfshore Business, a magazine in Southwest Florida.
An author and contributor to many newspapers, magazines and online publications, James has co-hosted The Weekly Driver Podcast since 2017.